"And it is possible that I am alone in an empty universe, speaking to no one, unaware that the world is held aloft merely by my delusions and my smooth, sonorous voice."

Cecil Gershwin Palmer is the voice of Night Vale and the narrator of Welcome to Night Vale. He works at Night Vale Community Radio as the announcer and self-proclaimed journalist.

Sometimes, Cecil reports on events as they are occurring. It is mentioned he often receives faxes and phone calls from listeners on events, as well as updates from his surviving interns out in the field.

He lives in an apartment of unknown location in Night Vale with his scientist husband Carlos, and is also mentioned as owning a car.

Cecil appears in all but seven episodes, "Company Picnic", "A Story About Huntokar", "All Smiles Eve" and "Taking Off". He is the main narrator in every episode aside from The Sandstorm (Part B), Company Picnic, Renovations, Voicemail, A Story About Huntokar, Taking Off, The Mudstone Abyss: Part 1, 2 & 3, and The Dreamer.

He is assumed to be an Aquarius (Born January 20 to February 18) based on his highly specific horoscope in Episode 51, "Rumbling", to calm himself during Carlos' absence in the Desert Otherworld.

Physical characteristics

Cecil's physical appearance is deliberately unspecified, and it is not entirely certain that he is fully human. There is strong evidence that he may be immortal, extremely old and/or a time traveler. He is described by both himself and by Kevin as "a man." Cecil and Kevin are also doubles, so it is likely that they either share or mirror each others' physical characteristics.

Cecil admitted that he doesn't remember how old he is and that - because of his fear of mirrors - he doesn't know what he looks like. [1]

Cecil once described Kevin from a photo as being "not tall or short, not thin or fat," with hair and nose resembling Cecil's, but with black eyes that are apparently not like his. Kevin also wears a tie, at least in the photograph.

While it is likely that Cecil is over a hundred years old, Leonard Burton says that he "doesn't look a day older than when [he] first started working for [him]," which would have been in Cecil's late teens. Depending on how literal Burton is being, this implies that Cecil has not physically aged much past young adulthood.

In fan art, he is commonly depicted with a third eye on his forehead, and tattooed arms with either runic or "tentacle-like" patterns.

Cecil has a strange sense of fashion, and he typically wears odd clothing in equally odd combinations. Cecil describes his first date outfit as "my best tunic and furry pants," while for work, he opts for a more professional ensemble of capri pants and a cummerbund. He also mentions a "professional radio hosting unitard" in the episode Niecelet. In Review, Cecil wears yellow sponge clogs, cat ears, and tights to the opera, as operas are new to Night Vale and they have no solid dressing code. When Cecil returns from the Well of Night, he is wearing a black plastic poncho, cat ears, and galoshes. At first, he believes that this outfit is not what he was wearing before, as he first described the colour of the galoshes as yellow, and that he owns orange galoshes. He eventually decided that the galoshes are orange, and that he was wearing the same outfit he wore to the station that morning. Cecil once wore a honeycomb hat, a Hawaiian shirt, and leather pants to sleep and then wore them to work at the radio station the next day. This ensemble was considered fashionable enough to be "spared from the Sphere" in the episode Fashion Week; the same episode describes other citizens of Night Vale wearing equally bizarre clothing that is deemed fashionable, so it is difficult to say just how eccentric Cecil's fashion sense is by Night Vale standards.

In Ghost Stories, it was implied that, due to his crippling fear of mirrors most likely due subconsciously to the events in Cassette, Cecil doesn't actually know what he looks like. In Sandstorm, it is mentioned that he keeps a picture of himself on his desk, and he is also able to recognize that Kevin looks almost identical to him. However, this photo is at least five years old (four years in relation to Ghost Stories), so while he may know what he looked like five years ago, he is most likely unaware if his looks have changed since then.


Cecil is a very gentle person and seems very well acquainted with the folks about town. Indeed, though he may not be aware of it, he seems to be one of the town's more prominent citizens: his relationship with Carlos is a frequent topic of conversation, and most of the town is aware of his feud with Steve Carlsberg.[2] However, they seem to begin to resolve this conflict around "Matryoshka", when they both speak about their differences and Cecil explains why he has such an aversion towards Steve. Recently, his conflict of interest has shifted from Steve Carlsberg and onto Susan Willman.

He is very fond and proud of Night Vale, despite its horrors (many of which he has experienced firsthand) and often provides comfort for the residents of the town during times of uncertainty or danger. Though he is quick to praise the City Council, the Sheriff's Secret Police, and their draconian policies, his views on many social issues are surprisingly tolerant for a resident of a police state, and he even occasionally calls out the town's crooked politicians on air, despite the risk of retaliation. Occasionally he criticizes one of these bodies, and he is the only Night Vale citizen (excluding deceased Old Woman Josie) to publicly acknowledge the existence of angels[3].

However, he has something of a dual personality. He can be serious and cheerful by turns, switching between extreme tones at the drop of a hat. Jackie Fierro and Carlos separately described him as "overenthusiastic about most things".[2] He struggles with impulse control: he outed Steve Carlsberg as the opponent of the drawbridge project[4], asked his listeners for dating advice despite being aware that his radio show was not the time or place for it[5], and accidentally alerted StrexCorp to the pending rebellion in Night Vale[6]. He has repeatedly been willing to use his professional reach and influence for personal gain: he set the town against Telly the Barber for the crime of cutting Carlos' hair[7], makes interns copyedit his fanfic[8] and manage his social media accounts[9], and helped his niece break into City Hall[10].

Cecil often comes across as a decent, kind, and ethical person, and describes himself as such--he calls himself "innocent and kind" in A Story About Them. But in cooperation with the authorities, he seems perfectly comfortable with legalized murder, using the radio audience's collective mind power to kill an unknown driver in a lake, and keeping a man in a cage of electricity at the zoo. Though he is rarely malicious, his treatment of Telly the Barber makes his potential for cruelty obvious. His obliviousness about the radio station intern turnover rate is alarming; he seems genuinely hurt and offended by the suggestion that there's anything wrong with his management style.

His broadcasts require a tremendous amount of cognitive dissonance. Often, they are internally contradictory, contain impossible instructions, or are banned midway through and must be renounced. Cecil occasionally gets in trouble with Station Management for describing things which are indescribable or discussing things that are not supposed to be discussed, and he openly worries that he will get in trouble with the authorities. Despite this, he remains enthusiastic about nearly all upcoming events, even those involving death and destruction—so long as they are scheduled by the city's leaders, of course.

There are times when Cecil's cognitive dissonance becomes obvious. In a set of cassette tapes he made as a teenager, we hear fifteen-year-old Cecil already struggling to rationalize his family's strange behaviour towards him, and that struggle continues in his adulthood. His broadcasts sometimes evoke the disconcerting sense that Cecil's personal thoughts differ from the words he's actually speaking, even if Cecil himself tries to repress it. It's implied that he's become very good at ignoring the discrepancies in his own memories. He even destroys his adolescent cassette recordings because he can't remember or accept what they reveal about his life.

Cecil's sense of self-preservation is often as questionable as that of the town's other residents. Notably, in the episode Subway, he leaves the studio to board the menacing Night Vale subway system, despite the fact that he hasn't seen anyone exiting it and his intern never returned from riding it.[11] However, Cecil is certainly not immune to horrors and is rendered genuinely helpless and terrified by some events. Most notably, when he is stuck in Kevin's hellish recording booth in Desert Bluffs, he becomes extremely distressed by the blood, organs and other viscera coating the room (especially the recording equipment). He's also described cowering under his desk in fear while being hunted by his menacing boss(es?)[7]. He became extremely combative when his cat, Khoshekh, was being attacked.[12] He also curses and cries when he thinks Carlos may have been killed.[13]

When reading the week's horoscopes he sometimes describes certain characters instead of what the stars actually say. Eventually, Cecil openly describes Steve Carlsberg quite negatively when reading the week's horoscope for Scorpio– to the point where Abby confronts him about his rudeness. The horoscopes from Rumbling essentially confirm that Carlos is a Taurus and Cecil himself is an Aquarius.


Cecil presumably existed, along with the radio station, before Night Vale did. Though Cecil ages from adolescent to adult, the "[Best Of?]" episode suggests he exists somewhat beyond time, or at least lives much longer than humans normally do. He normally refuses to answer questions about his past, or about the dates of some defining events in his life, like his graduation, and immediately changes the subject when asked such questions.

When Cecil was five years old, the prophecies were revealed saying that he would become the voice of Night Vale. That was when he first got his Little Reporter's Book of Big Boy Note Taking, a book he makes notes in always, even when he's not aware of it, and even when he's not holding a pen.

He sings the Night Vale High fight song in the episode Cassette, and he says he played Pippin in his high school's avant-garde production of the musical "South Pacific." He was a member of the Night Vale Boy Scouts, earning an Advanced Siege-Breaking Tactics badge at the age of 12 [14] and a Subversive Radio Host badge at an unspecified age[15].

Cecil was interested in radio hosting early on. At age 15, he started recording himself on cassette tapes, enthusiastically imitating previous NVCR host Leonard Burton. While recording these cassette tapes, he began to see a mysterious flickering out of the corner of his eye which increased in frequency when he spoke or sang. Eventually, Cecil did land an internship at NVCR, and got to work with his idol, Leonard. But the mysterious flickering got stronger and Cecil apparently blacked out. In Filings, it is revealed that flickering was Cecil from 2017 and when teenage Cecil sees adult Cecil in a mirror in the station bathroom, teenage Cecil passes out and disappears from the future.

Early on in his internship, Cecil reports on the creation of Night Vale by white settlers in 1745 (although the area had Native inhabitants since 4000 BC). He describes the founders of Night Vale donning meat crowns and forgetting the existence of mountains. This either contradicts the earlier events of Cecil's life, which imply that Night Vale already existed, or implies that Cecil can time travel.

Cecil claims to have traveled to Europe after college. Cecil specifically mentions the countries of Svitz, Franchia, and Luftnarp, and seems completely unaware that they don't actually exist anywhere in Europe. Cecil also claims to have met Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) during this trip and witnessed him inventing the radio. It is clear that NVCR predates radio itself, although it unclear how the show was disseminated before radio. It is also unclear how Cecil had cassette tapes at age 15 when they weren't invented until 1962.

Otherwise, Cecil has never mentioned leaving Night Vale and seems unaware of conditions outside of it. Despite living in America, he has never heard of Michigan, Alabama, Oregon, or Ohio. He does not have much knowledge of astronomy, as he does not know what the moon is (although he does make various statements regarding Night Vale's secret outer space operations) and doesn't believe in mountains (perhaps due to civic pride). He often doubts his own existence and the existence of other people.

Cecil appears to have remained an intern at NVCR until World War II. At this time, Leonard Burton retired and Cecil became the Voice of Night Vale. His first broadcast described the Night Vale war effort.

During the Cold War, the timeline appears to split, resulting in two universes, one in which Cecil and all of Night Vale perish in a nuclear apocalypse, and one in which no such apocalypse occurs.

He had a major role in the rebellion against StrexCorp in the episode Parade Day, being attacked by Lauren and Kevin when the rebellion failed. He was captured after the events of Parade Day and taken to the Strexcorp Company Picnic . Afterwards, in Renovations, he described the picnic in cold, uncensored detail.



Recalling his perspective as a very young child, Cecil briefly talks about his mother, who is described as being as strange and disconnected as the other town residents. Cecil talks about her staring blankly into his eyes and saying, "Someday someone will kill you, and it will involve a mirror." He also notes that he misses her.

Later, from his perspective as a teen, he talks about his mother again. Presumably aware of Cecil's destiny as Leonard Burton's successor, she gave him a cassette recorder for his 15th birthday--but other than that, is again described as being very disconnected and strange, something Cecil struggles to comprehend. When she hides from him for over 3 days (the longest she's ever been gone before), he is clearly confused by her absence, but tries to attribute this to her being proud of him and his recent internship at the station. Following from her earlier warning, Cecil's mother covers all the mirrors in their house before she disappears. In Ghost Stories, Cecil reveals his mother has been dead for at least eleven years, and that she had reappeared several years after the events of Cassette. He also said she had some sort of mental illness and drank alcohol. In Homecoming, Cecil refers to his "late mother" and notes that he is looking forward to the Night Vale High School homecoming game because of the opportunity to speak with her at halftime. The implications, then, are that she was herself an alumna of NVHS (since only alumni (past or future) appear at homecoming).

Cecil has yet to mention any other parental figure besides his mother.


Cecil has a sister named Abby: Janice's mother and Steve Carlsberg's wife. When Cecil was fourteen, their mother disappeared, forcing Abby to drop out of school and raise him on her own. For many years Cecil and Abby blamed each other for this situation and hardly spoke to each other. They begun to patch things up when their mother returned and needed their help [16]. Though Cecil and Abby do not appear to be exceptionally close (noting, in The Registry of Middle School Crushes, that he has not spoken to her in some time), they do seem to be on good terms: Steve says that Abby loves her brother [17], and Cecil babysat Janice when Steve and Abby were away [18].

Fifteen-year-old Cecil mentions a brother, with whom he had a strained relationship. His brother was apparently "disappointed" with him and told him he would never make it in radio because he didn't have the right voice for it. He's also described as glaring at Cecil from across the breakfast table with hollow eyes and howling. Towards the end of Cassette, teenaged Cecil says only that his brother is "gone now". Adult Cecil claims not to remember him at all. It is later revealed that Cecil's brother actually comes from another reality, that his name is Cal and that he is older than Cecil. Cecil also mentions he never told his brother he was gay as he thought Cal would not accept him, unlike people of Night Vale [19].

Other Family

In the episode The Lights in Radon Canyon, Cecil says he learned the following adage from his grandparents: "A life of pain is the pain of life, and you can never escape it—only hope it hides, unknown, in a drawer like a poisonous spider and never comes out again, even though it probably will, in unexpected and horrific fashion, scaring you from being able to comfortably conduct even the most mundane, quotidian tasks."

In the episode Cookies, it emerges for the first time that Cecil is related to Steve Carlsberg, whom Cecil has always shown a great dislike for. This episode strongly implies that Cecil dislikes Steve because Steve is a careless and inattentive stepfather to Cecil's niece, Janice, who belongs to the girl scouts. (These implications about Steve's parenting skills is one of the most prominent instances where Cecil is a decidedly unreliable narrator.) We later learn, in The September Monologues, that Cecil has other reason to dislike him, as Steve is aware of the workings of The Vague, Yet Menacing, Government Agency and other things that no one is supposed to know about. Cecil didn't want him teaching those things to Janice.

In the episode Old Oak Doors Part B, Steve Carlsberg implies Cecil is his stepbrother--but in The September Monologues, however, Steve confesses to being confused about terms like stepbrother, brother-in-law, brother-outside-the-law, half-brother and double-brother. At any rate, Steve is consistent that he married Cecil's sister, making Cecil his brother-in-law. Steve met Cecil for the first time on Steve's wedding day.

For years, Cecil used to say rude and mean things about Steve until Steve finally asked him to stop and demanded an explanation of why Cecil was doing it. This forced Cecil to admit it was hard for him to let people into his life because of his difficult childhood (i.e. his mother leaving and his strained relationship with Abby). After this revelation, the two of them hugged and begun to patch things up. Cecil also admitted he was angry at Steve for appearing in Abby and Janice's life and taking away his duty of taking care of the two of them, even though he realized Steve was simply being a responsible husband and stepfather [20]. Their relationship is still quite strained, but in recent episodes Cecil's feelings towards Steve seem to largely revolve around irritation and annoyance.


Carlos the Scientist: Carlos is Cecil's husband.

In Night Vale's Pilot episode, Cecil fell in love at first sight with a handsome scientist named Carlos who had just appeared in the town. Cecil's open and complete adoration for him is featured prominently on the show. Cecil frequently gushes in lyrical prose over Carlos's beauty and great intellect. It is made decidedly clear that Cecil isn't simply admiring Carlos from afar, and did, in fact, wish to date him. Cecil even gives Carlos his home phone number in the hopes that he will call. Carlos, however, is initially either unaware of Cecil's affections or willfully chooses to ignore them, only ever contacting Cecil on matters of business. It's only after a near-death experience in episode 25 that Carlos finally calls Cecil for "personal reasons" and, after sharing a tender moment together in the Arby's parking lot, the two finally begin dating. In episode 100, it's revealed that the two had recently gotten married. It seems like episode 100 is the after party of their wedding, with all of their guests giving toasts in their honor.

Earl Harlan: Earl Harlan, currently a sous-chef at the Tourniquet, was Cecil's childhood best friend. They were in the Boyscouts together. It is implied in episode 23 (Eternal Scouts) that Cecil probably had been (or was about to be) in a relationship with him. Earl grabs Cecil's arm during this episode and sadly tells him, "We could have had something, Cecil. Always remember that." Earl is later dragged away by strange mute children, but Cecil wistfully mentions later that he often thinks about Earl's last words to him. Later on, Earl is hosted several times in the show, in a cooking tips and recipes segment called "Cooking Stuff, With Earl Harlan". In Homecoming, it is mentioned that Earl and Cecil graduated from Night Vale High School in the same year, though neither could remember a specific year. Earl is said to have been 19-year-old for a long time, and then suddenly discovering he is a middle-aged father. He had no idea how he got to this point, and he doesn't actually know his son.

The Beautiful Young Man From Luftnarp: Cecil talks about meeting with a "beautiful, ashen faced young man" in a local alehouse in Europe[21], with whom it's implied he was on the verge of being in a relationship with before they parted ways at the end of the episode. The man sees Cecil off as he boards the bus home and, as the man turns to leave, Cecil wistfully laments over, "this thing between [us], that seemed so possible now already and forever never was".

Mayor Dana Cardinal: Dana Cardinal is a former intern of NVCR, but was elected Night Vale Mayor (despite having not run for the position). Cecil seemed to have a fond friendship with Dana when she was an intern, the only intern he shows any prolonged concern for. They are Facebook friends and kept in contact via text, phone calls and astral projection when Dana was trapped in The Dog ParkThe House That Does Not Exist and later when she was traversing the desert that contains The Blinking Light up on the Mountain (later revealed to be a lighthouse that somehow enables travel through time and space) and the Masked Army (whom she, as of A Story About Them, appears to be leading). Cecil then believed for a prolonged period of time that Dana was the owner of Lot 37, Cecil himself, since he was being used to protect her. However, in Reviewit is revealed that the actual owner is Hiram McDaniels's purple head, Violet, and he and Dana seem to be okay once again. 

Old Woman Josie: It's mentioned that he used to go bowling with Old Woman Josie and the two used to play on a team together. They speak to each other like old friends, although it seems they haven't been keeping up with each other as much since the bowling alley was invaded by tiny people and Cecil and Carlos started dating.

Guillermo Marconi taught Cecil "all sorts of things, all sorts of things, all sorts," possibly implying a sexual relationship.

Cecil harbours a deep disgust for the following: 

  • Desert Bluffs, presumably because of town rivalry.
  • The Apache Tracker, for being a racist and culturally appropriative "asshole".
  • Steve Carlsberg, who has an annoying habit of pointing out what he considers the flaws in such noble municipal projects as government-approved clone sandstorms and the construction of a drawbridge in the desert, and recently revealed to be a deadbeat stepfather to Cecil's niece, Janice (along with accusations of Steve being a gambling addict, and having horrible taste in shoes). Steve and Cecil reconcile at least temporarily after Steve defeats Kevin in Old Oak Doors Part B, although Cecil still expresses disdain for Steve's "stupid ideas about the world." Cecil and Steve have continued to get along better since then.
  • Telly the Barber, for cutting Carlos' beautiful hair short.
  • Cecil expressed distrust of StrexCorp during the period which they owned the radio station. While never publicly stating his opposition on air (aside from a brief pirated message), he made efforts to subtly show his displeasure with their rise to power. This resentment Cecil harbors towards Strex became rather personal after their StrexPet severely injured Khoshekh, an event that clearly left Cecil highly disturbed and desirous for revenge. This possibly pushed Cecil towards actively assisting Tamika Flynn with the Parade Day rebellion against StrexCorp; however, this rebellion ultimately failed due to the rest of the town's reluctance to act. The rebels were captured by StrexCorp, and the episode ends quite ominously (an increasingly panicked Cecil describes being surrounded by Lauren and Kevin). After the successful termination of the StrexCorp Company Picnic, Cecil frequently verbalizes distaste and ill will towards the former StrexCorp employees and residents of Desert Bluffs.
  • Kevin, due to his monstrous nature and because he is affiliated with StrexCorp and Desert Bluffs.( It should be noted that he and Kevin did seem to bond a bit during the episode Triptych.)


  • The first time Cecil was referred to as Cecil by himself or others in episode was in episode 5, The Shape in Grove Park (episode). His full name was revealed in episode 33, Cassette.
  • He shares his first name with his voice actor, stage actor and director Cecil Baldwin, who lives in New York. As of Cassette, we find out that he does not share the rest of his name with the real-life Cecil, which many fans had previously assumed was the case.
  • Cecil Baldwin said in a Nov 15 2013 interview, that the character's surname of Palmer was chosen by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor as an homage to David Lynch's cult classic horror series, Twin Peaks. Presumably, it is a reference to the character Laura Palmer, whose murder most of the series revolves around.
  • Cecil is part of the minority of Night Vale residents who can feel pain.
  • He claimed to be fighting lyme disease during Station Management, a claim that was reiterated in the Thrilling Adventure Hour & Welcome to Night Vale Crossover.
  • He seems to enjoy alcohol, and is mentioned getting tipsy on cheap wine during his college days while in Europe and leisurely drinking brandy while on the phone to Carlos.
    • Cecil may have had a more serious issue with alcohol, at least during Carlos' absence from Night Vale, as during that time, the Aquarius horoscope - Cecil's - suggests that he should "perhaps take up drinking while crying in a quiet room."[22]
  • He seems to be fond of westerns.
    • Cecil mentions enjoying the 1965 western comedy movie Cat Ballou so much that he's unable to tear himself away, missing an important phone call. Carlos suggested that they could rewatch The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, during the events of Orange Grove. He has also mentioned that he has seen all of Lee Marvin's films.
      • This may be more related to both films starring Lee Marvin than both being Westerns.
  • He mentions being glad that he got to see how popular TV series, Breaking Bad ended.
  • He has admitted to owning a hamster with an unknown name, but the hamster died two weeks after being in Cecil's care.
  • He has claimed to be a dog person and not fond of cats, but has grown very attached to Khoshekh, the floating cat in the men's bathroom at the station. He also gushes over the cuteness of a cat video he saw on the Internet.
  • He has a Tumblr blog. He uses it to share his wood carvings of Khoshekh.
  • He has written a Jaws slash fic, which he got Intern Maureen to copy-edit. He's also briefly mentioned writing multiple Hannibal fanfics, though it's unclear whether he's referring to the TV series, or the movie franchise, or possibly the ancient Carthaginian general.
  • It is implied that he is an Aquarius[22], by an oddly specific and painful horoscope, meaning he was born sometime in January or February.
  • It's implied during [Best Of?] that he had a physical and romantic relationship with Guglielmo Marconi when he was in Europe.
  • He recalls being present at Marconi's discovery of radio (1894?) which would either make him significantly older than Old Woman Josie or imply he is able to travel through time. He refuses to respond when asked about his age or specific past events identifying it, immediately changing the subject.
  • Joseph Fink confirmed that as of the live show "Ghost Stories" that Cecil is Jewish. Cecil refers to his Jewish roots by mentioning that he attended Torah school in episode 90: "Who's a Good Boy: Part 2." This also explains Khoshekh's Hebrew name. Khoshekh (חושך) means "darkness" in Hebrew.
  • It is revealed in episode 129 that, having lived in a desert his whole life, Cecil does not know how to swim.
  • After talking about Lee Marvins birthday in episode 139, The Birthday of Lee Marvin, it is revealed that Cecil really gets into birthdays, but cannot remember when his is.
  • It is revealed in the live show 'A Spy In The Desert' that Cecil has a great secret that he would never reveal to anybody.


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